Attend a writers’ conference or read a book on craft and you’ll receive this advice: “If you’re serious about writing, join a critique group.”
The first time I heard this I thought, You want me to let someone read my writing and tell me it’s drivel? No thanks, I can figure that out on my own.
The truth is, I can’t figure it out on my own. I have blind spots. And I have no way of knowing how others will perceive my words.
Maybe your pendulum swings to the opposite end of the spectrum and you think, I know how to write. I don’t need anyone telling me where to put commas or that my protagonist lacks dimension.
So, why do writers need each other?
Here are some benefits a critique group provides:
As writers the only feedback we receive comes in the form of acceptance letters or rejection notices. By the time we receive either, we’ve invested a lot of time, effort and emotion creating our article or manuscript. Critique group members point out our strengths and weaknesses before we send anything out. Then we can fix any problems and increase our acceptances.
I’d much rather hear from my writer friends that I need to work out some bugs in my writing than have it rejected by a publisher.
Insight into the Craft
Our writers are serious about learning the craft. And they bring unique knowledge and skills to each manuscript. This results in a steep increase in knowledge and skills for each writer.
I have learned more from my critique partners than I have through books or workshops.
Emotional and Spiritual Support
Writing is hard, and often lonely work. Meeting regularly with other writers provides camaraderie and encouragement we miss if we choose to be lone-ranger writers. Our group members pray for each other and our projects.
We commiserate when our work is rejected. And sharing the journey with other writers makes the joys more joyful as we celebrate our victories.
Learning About the Publishing Industry
The world of publishing is changing fast. In order to stay up with the changes, our writers stay plugged in through industry publications, blogs, tweets, Facebook and conferences. We share information we gather and help each other understand the big picture and how we fit into it.
I don’t know about you, but I need deadlines. Meeting regularly with my critique group provides them.
These are just a few of the benefits of critique groups. I’m sure you could add to this list. Let me know how your critique group helps you.
Not in a group yet? You can get connected by submitting a Critique Group Interest Form and one of our leaders will help you get plugged in.
Elizabeth M. Thompson leads Inspire Christian Writers. When she’s not working on nonfiction projects, she can be found pedaling beside or paddling along the American River. She enjoys connecting with other writers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
She has an active home which she shares with her fabulous husband Mike, three children, two dogs and a few errant dust bunnies.